Ceci n’est pas une pipe. Do you know that painting by Magritte? Well, it’s kind of in alignment with today’s post, as it really isn’t about pitas, though I did make them today, from, you guessed it, the book pictured above. I love home baked bread goods of all kinds, and the way these puff somehow make them even more delicious. Maybe it isn’t steam filling that interior but magic, the kind that you make with your hands. Make your own sometime, and see if you agree. I have a feeling you will.
So to what is not a pipe, but does, figuratively, have to do with the oven. The baby oven. If deciding at the age of eight goes far enough back to be considered never, I have never wanted children. While other girls played with dolls and chirruped excitedly about the day they would become mothers, I did not share their enthusiasm, save for anything but the play. Oh how I loved the play, and, come to think of it, I rarely pretended I was a mother, giving a baby her bottle. I preferred playing grown ups, arranging various blankets and scraps on the floor of my bedroom to serve as a house. I could go on for hours in this fashion (on my own or with any willing party – anyone? Please??) – sending someone off to work, making dinner, getting dressed up for parties. It’s actually a bit like my life now. That’s something interesting, too. Save for the part about me not making money (in my youth, I always thought I would have a successful career, though I didn’t ever imagine myself married, but living with my best friend – which is true, really), my life and house are pretty much as I imagined: I am happy. I travel. I cook. I do what I want. The house is old and has character. Each room is decorated differently. There is art, lots and lots of art.
The part that surprises me is that this decision arrived in a period of relative calm in our household, at least as calm as six loud talkers in a small space can be, anyway. Later, though not terribly so, external forces would add to the laundry list of reasons I needed to confirm that having babies was more problematic than anything:
1. A mentally unbalanced sister who would run away more times than I can remember. Beat anyone who crossed her, including me. Get caught stealing. Get brought home by the police. Get pregnant very young.
2. An equally mentally unbalanced grandmother who would disappear for days only to be found dancing on table tops at a Holiday Inn. Make up lies to send a SWAT team to a perfectly innocent woman’s home. Verbally abuse me for not being complicit in her “lies” (they were real to her).
3. Suffer through my own depression, shame, and heartbreak.
4. Be forced to be an adult by parents doing the best they could.
5. See the “giving birth” film in 10th grade biology. Oh god, that film!
For a while, it was all about the list. I had to defend myself. It had to be more than deciding as an eight year old, even though that’s what it was. I no longer need a list or a reason. I just never wanted to. It seems to me that I should want to have a baby in order to have one. It is not something one tries. Despite what seems to be pretty sound logic, I have been belittled, berated, and called hopelessly selfish, but I don’t and didn’t care. You’re not the boss of me! Besides, I’ve been called worse by people I thought were my friends. And then that day in May of 2009. My junk is no good. It would be a miracle for me to even get pregnant. Seriously?! After eighteen years of condoms? Do you know how much money we could have saved? Such a frugalista!
I owned the decision fully, held it as fiercely as a flag of victory, yet it was never truly my own. God decided long before I did and whispered it on the clouds, in a dream, somewhere, in 1979, saving me the infinite pain of wanting and wondering before the truth. For that and my ever determined nature not to fold under the pressures of society, I am truly grateful. I have seen that sadness and frustration. It has not stopped me from wanting for children, however: their good health, to smell them after spitting up, to ease their cries, to swaddle them in blankets of love, to see their eyes of wonder, and hear their raucous laughter. It’s funny isn’t it? “God plays with us!”